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Finding a Mover

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Moving is one of the highest cost events of your life, next to buying a house, buying a car, having kids, college and weddings.  It’s also one of the most stressful.  Although there are many books available that specifically focus on moving, this chapter is designed to give you some of the most important considerations so you can prepare yourself mentally and financially. 

Before you can call your first mover for a bid, you need to make a basic list of what you need moved.  Is it just household articles, or is there also a boat or cars involved.  Make a list of how many rooms will need to be moved, and also any oversized, heavy objects, such as dining hutches.  After reviewing this list, the first question is what kind of mover do you really need.  You do not need an expensive big-time mover like Mayflower or United if you can fit everything in to the back of a pick-up truck.  Let’s look at your moving options;

Moving yourself with your own equipment (a can or pick-up truck)

Moving yourself with rented equipment, like a large U-Haul Truck.

Having a small two-man team move you with a small truck (like “Starving Students”)

Having a national moving company move you. 

The cost of the move goes up the farther down the list you go, so the choice is yours, based on the quantity of stuff you have to move, as well as the distance you are going.  But while you are pondering this mater, also be thinking of this question -- how much am I willing to pack?  A big part of the expense of moving, using an outside vendor, is in the packing of the boxes to be moved.  You will save a lot of money if you pack yourself, but you will have to put in a lot of effort to do so.  The worst thing you can do is to agree to do the packing and then not get the job done by the time the mover shows up to move you.  If you make the commitment, you have got to keep it, no matter what.


Once you have decided what kind of mover you need, and how much packing you will do, it is time to get estimates.  If you are moving yourself, you may only need the U-Haul rate for a one-way move from point A to point B.  But if you are using someone else, you will need to begin the time-intensive system of bidding.

If you want to do an effective job of bidding, you need to make an exhaustive list of every company that you want to make a bid.  If there are 50 movers in the yellow pages, you will want to call all 50.  Why?  Because you are hoping that 1) someone really wants the work bad and will give you a great price or 2) somebody at a big company screws up the estimate and gives you a ridiculously good price accidentally. 

When Frank moved, he bid the larger but not national moving companies as well as the national movers.  The cost range was $12,000 to $36,000.  How is that possible?  The low bid was a company that was slow on work and just wanted to make payroll.  The high bid was a huge national company that was used to executives working for a company that pays for the move, and showed Frank all kinds of meaningless perks, plus a fancy four-color brochure.

Once you have received written bids from every player, it is time to do the first negotiation.  Find the top 5 players, and separate them from the pile.  Call each of them and tell them that they are a finalist for your work, but they need to come down on their price.  See if any of them will immediately lower the bid.  Then, after a few days, call these new lower bids back one more time and tell them that they are still too high, but you really like them, and would they like to re-do their bid even lower one last time.  This worked for Frank, and the final bid was reduced another $2,000.

Once you have lined up a mover, your job is to make sure that everything, is done on time.  Call the mover every few day to ensure that they will be there on the appropriate day.  Also, make sure that if you agreed to do the packing, you are on schedule to have it complete. 


When the movers do arrive to move you, your biggest goal is to minimize damage to your stuff.  Watch them carefully, and offer productive suggestions.  Although the foreman probably has experience, many of the others are just day laborers who don’t.  The more enthusiastic you are about not hurting stuff, the less that will be broken or injured.  Anything that absolutely cannot be broken, like a family lamp, you should move it yourself in your own car.  Don’t trust your heirlooms to these people -- accidents do occur. 

Also make sure that the mover and your belongings are properly insured.  Check with your insurance agent, not just the moving company to compare policies.  Again, accidents do occur, and you need to be adequately protected. 


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